Strengthening Civil Society Against the Weaponization of Anti-Fake News Laws: A Comparison of Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Thailand

  • In an age of proliferating disinformation, governments in South and Southeast Asia have come out with anti-fake news laws. However, the “weaponization" of such laws can lead governments to control online platforms and censor critics. Our project examines the patterns and processes of the weaponization of such laws against civic actors and countermeasures by the latter. We aim for academic and policy outcomes to improve disinformation regulation while safeguarding digital rights.
    GIGA, 2023-2024


    Research Questions

    Our research questions are on how governments broaden the definition of
    disinformation through their practice of anti-fake news laws; the common patterns and mechanisms of governments’ use of anti-fake news laws against civil society actors; civil society responses across countries, and policy recommendations for digital platforms and decision-makers to counter disinformation without abuse of anti-fake news laws.

    Contribution to International Research

    Our contributions are:
    (a) Create the first systematic online tracker of governments’ misuse of anti-fake news laws in the three focus countries, which can be replicated and scaled-up.
    (b) Map civil society responses against anti-fake news laws.
    (c) Analyse regional patterns and trends and provide comparative insights.
    (d) Analyse evolving definition of disinformation and impact of such laws through state practices and civil society responses, mechanisms for improving platform governance on counter-disinformation, and legal and policy checks against abuse of fake-news laws against critical information actors.

    Research Design and Methods

    We will be collecting and analysing data based on archival research, computational study, and insights derived from interviews and workshops with stakeholders.

    GIGA Focus Global | 1/2024

    Repression by Legal Means: Governments’ Anti-Fake News Lawfare

    Anti-fake news lawfare is deepening government control over civil society, undermining information integrity and civil society’s democratic rights. Patterns to this legal repression and related pushback strategies in South and Southeast Asia are examined, as the forerunners of global developments.


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